In stark contrast to the washed out round at Cabarita just four weeks ago, Spitwater Arena at Keith in South Australia delivered perfect conditions for the final round of what had been a challenging year of competition for the Australian V8 Superboat Unlimited Championship.
After the setbacks of Cabarita, the big question everyone was asking was just how much Phonsy Mullan had closed down Slade Stanley’s early season advantage. The ‘Hazardous’ driver at times as much as three seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field. The answer came in the final qualifier ahead of the elimination finals, Slade Stanley – 41.648, Phonsy Mullan – 41.714, the difference, just six one thousandths of a second.
Behind them a terrific battle was ensuing between former champions Daryl Hutton (28) and Scott Krause.
Along with the returning Tyler Finch (32) who was enjoying his maiden laps of the Keith venue, the trio were separated by less than a second heading into the finals.
Former Keith winner Mick Carroll was back in action too. The ‘Excalibur’ pilot showing that despite twelve months away from the sport that he’d lost nothing in the pace department. The South Australian setting a best of 45.660 in the opening qualifier to be fourth before a medical emergency unfolded in the pits.
The multiple race winner was taken to hospital after becoming unwell at the track, where it was revealed, he’d suffered a mild heart attack. He was transferred to Adelaide where he underwent surgery and was recovering post op, disappointed to have not had a chance to be in a fight for the podium.
After making his Unlimited Superboat debut at Cabarita last time out, expat New Zealander Chris Edmonds (169) made what many felt to be an unusual decision ahead of the Keith round. The former World number 2 in the 400-Class took delivery of Andrew Page’s ‘Kamikazi’. Page calling time on his racing to travel and enjoy life, whilst for Edmonds, he admitted he wanted something to inject some fun into his racing and he didn’t disappoint.
You couldn’t have blamed a bookmaker if he started taking bets about when and where Edmonds would launch his new boat out of the track. His first laps with 1800-horsepower under his right foot were nothing short of captivating. Fans, and competitors looked on in disbelief as Edmonds man-handled the renamed ‘Yippee Ki-Yay’ around the Keith circuit, spending as much time off the circuit as he did in the air!
In the end though, he completed every lap he contested (as well as a ‘Ride of your Life’ for a lucky passenger) without throwing the boat out of the track permanently. His wide eyes after just two qualifying sessions indicating that it was as much a thrill for the driver as it was for the fans.
I’ve never had so much fun in my life, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever bought. It goes a little bit quick for me, and I’m getting the knack of it. I tell you what, when you come into a turn and you’re in a bit of trouble you just put it where you want to put it and stand on it. There’s grass and mud, I can see it from where I’m sitting, and it just takes off, it just goes where I need it to go.
Whilst Edmonds was thrilling the fans, across the paddock Glenn ‘Spider’ Roberts (888) was lamenting a lack of track time at Cabarita, the ‘Blown Budget’ team suffering from fuel and electrical issues. A new fuel pump resolving one problem, but creating another, before the team was forced to park the boat after electrical issues left them without enough charge to fire the motor successfully on the ramp for the finals.
With Slade Stanley leading the field into the first elimination final as top qualifier, the ‘Hazardous’ boat was first to lay down a time, but just seconds into his run the engine flamed out, leaving the immaculate blue ‘Stinger’ coming to a stop on the bank. His championship now well and truly in the hands of arch-rival Phonsy Mullan.
Not the start to eliminations we wanted. We went down the straight and the engine just cut out, looks like a loose earth wire or something has gone amiss, so that’s all she wrote… timing, beautiful as usual.
With Stanley eliminated, that opened the door again for Phonsy Mullan (23). The seven-time champion elected to conserve his motor ahead of the final three. He dropped his pace back to a more conservative level to set the top time in both the Top 12 and Top 6 elimination events. This ensured he had his eighth title in the bag before stepping up the pace in the final to lay down a 42.790 to claim win number two for the year and put the championship result well out of question.
Heading into the final he faced both two-time champion Daryl Hutton (28) and the returning Tyler Finch. Hutton’s consistency giving him second, whilst Finch laid down another consistent run to be third.
2021 Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Unlimited Championship (after round five of five)
- Phonsy Mullan (RAMJET) – 138 points
- Slade Stanley (Hazardous) – 136
- Daryl Hutton (Phoenix Lubricants) – 120
- Scott Krause (KAOS) – 118
- Glenn Roberts (Blown Budget) – 88
- Ben Hathaway (NoodNutz Racing) – 80
- Mitch Roylance (BlackJack) – 72
- Chris Edmonds (Yippee Ki-Yay) – 52
- Mick Carroll (Excalibur) – 50
- Tyler Finch (Loose Cannon) – 30
- Daniel de Voigt (DEVO Racing) – 24
- Sam Everingham (Thirsty Merc) – 20
- Andrew Page (Kamakazi) – 16
Now the Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championship teams go into ‘off-season’ preparations ahead of the first official round of the 2022 season on July 23-24 at the Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club’s Cabarita Beach facility.
Images by Russell Puckeridge.